TARANTULA-1955-This begins with a mutated guy in his pajamas dying in the desert. Later the corpse is examined by Dr. Matt Hastings (John Agar) and the aloof professor Deemer (Leo G. Carroll) who says the cause of death was “agromeglia” but Hastings isn't buying it. Turns out the professor is experimenting with an isotope that can enlarge animals. When Deemer is attacked by another mutant his lab burns down and an experimental tarantula escapes. The mutant dies but not before injecting the professor with the isotope. Deemer's new intern “Stevie” Clayton (Mara Corday) winds up taking care of him when he starts to mutate. The giant arachnid dogs their trail but eventually starts eating cattle and people. Hastings, the sheriff (Nestor Paiva) and a newspaper publisher (Ross Elliot) can't fight it. When the spider knocks out phone lines and terrorizes Deemer and Stevie, Hastings uses dynamite but that fails to do any good. It's up to the Air Force (lead by Clint Eastwood) to get rid of it. Hank Patterson is a hotel clerk and Raymind Bailey is another scientist.
Jack Arnold directed this fast paced low budget horror sci-fi story with great (for the time) special effects the same year as REVENGE OF THE CREATURE (also with Agar).
REVENGE's screenwriter Martin Berkeley co-wrote TARANTULA but was soon after blacklisted. Lead actress Mara Corday (still alive at the time of this review) was in another Jack Arnold outing THE MAN FROM BITTER CREEK the same year. Leo G. Carroll's popular sit-com TOPPER ended the year he played the the deformed Prof. Deemer.
Thanks for reading!